Is corporate America – particularly manufacturers and mid-sized companies in the Midwest – ready for the rising expectations for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability communications and reporting?
The data and trends suggest that there is a lot to think about – both opportunities and challenges/risks. To address these issues, Dix & Eaton is pleased to host a CSR/Sustainability Communications and Reporting event Friday, July 26, at 7:30 a.m. at The Union Club of Cleveland. This invitation-only event will feature a presentation by the Governance & Accountability Institute, the exclusive U.S. data partner for the Global Reporting Initiative. If you’re interested and have not already signed up, click here to see the event invitation and RSVP information.
Among the recent developments to be discussed are:
- The standard-setting Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) issued its new G4 sustainability reporting guidelines in May. These guidelines significantly expand the considerations for inclusion of "material" information for corporate reporters.
- There is growing interest in “integrated reporting,” a concept that combines financial and non-financial/ESG (environmental, social and governance) metrics for assessing organizational performance and risk management.
- Supply chain and peer pressure is mounting in many sectors. Large customers such as Apple, Microsoft and Wal-Mart are now encouraging or mandating suppliers to provide sustainability reports, either privately or for public access. The U.S. government has mandated reports from large departments and agencies and is beginning to push its contractors on reporting.
- Sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) accounts for approximately $3.7 trillion of assets under management in the U.S. – approximately 11 percent of total U.S. assets under management.
- While the U.S. investment community overall continues to show only modest interest in CSR/sustainability, the closely related areas of risk management and governance rank high on the priority list, according to several recent studies and surveys.
- The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is developing industry-specific materiality guidelines for two dozen sectors, with priorities including health care, financial services, technology & communication, non-renewable resources, transportation and manufacturing.
- For the first time ever, the number of S&P 500 companies that publish sustainability or CSR reports has exceeded 50 percent (and only one company out of the S&P 500 provides no sustainability-related disclosures).
- NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange are exploring expanded sustainability-related disclosure guidelines for listed companies, in line with the activities of various stock exchanges around the world.
There’s little doubt that a heightened level of CSR/sustainability communications and reporting is coming, even for middle-market, mid-sized, Midwest companies. It’s certainly no reason to panic, but it is time to pay attention.